Cooking with beer, wine, and liquors can offer you a whole range of flavor possibilities otherwise inaccessible. Beers and wines can add rich, caramel-like flavors or lively, floral notes, all with relatively minimal cooking time. They can also accentuate alcohol-soluble flavor compounds in foods like tomatoes. One of the most effective ways to cook with beer, however, is to use it as a tenderizing marinade. Beer contains enzymes that help break down tough fibers in meat, making it more tender and flavorful at the same time. The guide below outlines the steps in learning how to tenderize meat with beer.
- Choose a beer to use as the marinade. All beers contain potentially tenderizing enzymes, but the style of beer you select will have a dramatic impact on your food's flavor.
- Very light beers, such as pilsner, light lagers, and some pale ales, tend to add very little flavor to foods. Very intense beers, like porter and stout, tend to add an unpleasant bitter, smoky, or burnt taste to your dish.
- Instead, aim for a beer with a "middle-of-the-road" flavor profile, both in terms of hops and malt. Amber ales, nut browns, and extra special bitters (ESBs) are great choices for marinating and cooking foods.
- Construct your meat marinade. Of course, you can simply soak the meat in beer alone to tenderize it. However, to further boost the flavor of your meat you can choose herbs, spices, and other flavorings to add to the beer marinade. Soy sauce and ginger could be added to an Asian-style marinade, for example. Fresh or dried rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano could be added to an Italian-style dish.
- Place the meat and the beer marinade into a plastic bag. Zip-top plastic bags are ideal for marinading meat, because they allow you to push unnecessary air out and minimize the amount of marinade needed to contact the meat.
- Begin by seasoning your meat with salt and black pepper, and then add it to the plastic bag. Pour your beer marinade carefully into the bag and over the meat.
- Zip the plastic bag closed, pushing as much air out as possible before sealing it. Swish the bag around a bit to ensure that the beer marinade is contacting the meat across its entire surface area.
- Allow the beer to tenderize the meat. You will notice some improvement in the meat's tenderness after only 15 minutes. If you have more time to prepare your dish, however, let the marinade soak for at least an hour. You can also allow the meat to marinate overnight, but be aware that very long marinade times tend to lend an unappealing gray color to the meat.
- Cook the meat as desired. After marinating your meat in beer, you can cook it using any preparation. If using a braise or stew method, consider pouring the entire contents of your plastic bag into the cooking liquid. If sautéing or frying the meat, you may want to pat it dry before cooking to remove excess moisture. Adding moist meat to hot oil can cause dangerous and messy splatters.
- Light beers also make a light and airy batter for frying fish and poultry. Full-flavored beers like stout can be used in baking, where they pair especially well with chocolate or coffee.
- Marinating meat in beer or wine is especially useful for grilling, because the beer or wine can reduce the amount of carcinogens formed during cooking.
[Edit]Things You'll Need
- Herbs and spices
- Plastic bag